GO WEST! WHY EXACTLY? — It would seem that some rather prominent London galleries would soon be relocating to Mayfair.

March 9, 2010

It would seem that some rather prominent London galleries would soon be relocating to Mayfair. Not to sound any trumpets, or dare forecast a trend, but there is something notable about three galleries moving to one, quite exclusive, district of the city at the same time.

We have asked Iwan Wirth, president of gallery colossus Hauser & Wirth, Max Wigram of Max Wigram Gallery, and Raphaelle Bischoff of BISCHOFF/WEISS about their upcoming moves —and in the case of Hauser & Wirth, its expansion — to larger more prominent spaces in London’s Mayfair.

Max Wigram and BISCHOFF/WEISS actually started their operations in the East End. Regarding their beginnings Max Wigram and Rapahelle Bischoff spoke about their galleries’ evolutions.

“[Max Wigram Gallery] as a project space began in December 2001. I opened with [Marine] Hugonnier’s “Towards Tomorrow” photographs. I did not start representing artists until November 2002. The program was defined by the fact that I was showing artists for the first time rather than mid career artists. The artists and the gallery have grown together since then. The first move West, in 2005, was in order to move to a more central space. I had a very nice but smaller exhibition space that made exhibiting more difficult. The new space is bigger but not that much in terms of square footage. 99 New Bond Street was on 4 floors – now at 106 New Bond Street we are marginally bigger but on one floor. It feels completely different.”

Raphaelle Bischoff said about her and Paola Weiss’ move:

“After four successful years in the East End, Paola and I decided to relocate the gallery to Mayfair. We took advantage of the current climate to pick up a fantastic ground floor space on Hay Hill (just between Spruth Magers and Simon Lee). BISCHOFF/WEISS aims to keep its East End flavor by continuing to promote young emerging artists with a strong focus on sculpture. However, the gallery’s West End location will bring us closer to clients and improve the visibility of our artists.”

Hauser & Wirth of course has had a substantial presence in London and internationally, with its chain of galleries in the city and additional spaces in New York and Zurich. With four exhibition spaces already in London, we asked Iwan Wirth what the intentions were behind opening a new gallery in the city.

“As the recent Giacometti sale at auction shows, London remains one of the world’s most important art centers. It boasts some of the best museums and institutions in the world, as well as serving as a base for many international collectors. Our new gallery provides us with an exceptional space in the heart of London, which took us some time to find. We once made a big impression with a former temporary space called the Coppermill in London’s East End. Ever since then we’ve been seeking new premises and we’re absolutely delighted to be opening at 23 Savile Row.”

Beyond the record sale at Sotheby’s of Giacometti’s “Walking Man I” (1961) for $104 million indicating that London is an important art center, it also points to a renewed confidence in the art market. Given the effects of the global financial crisis on the art market, along with every other sector of the economy we asked Max Wigram how his gallery is not only getting on, but managing to move:

“Bizarrely, we have had a pretty good year. It seems that quality work with an Institutional seal of approval is doing fine. Similar to quality property. The number one impetus was to get a better, museum quality exhibition space. Everything we achieved has been despite our space. Now I can offer the artists a challenge at a time when many of them want to be able to show their work in that kind of context.”

As Flash Art announced in February, Hauser & Wirth will open its new space with a major exhibition of Louise Bourgeois; Max Wigram has shows from Marine Hugonnier, Cory Arcangel, and James White scheduled in the coming months; and BISCHOFF/WEISS is currently showing “Diamonds on the soles of her shoes,” curated by Niru Ratnam with works from Matthew Smith, Raphael Zarka and Alicja Kwade.

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